Thursday, October 13, 2016

The House of Usher (1989)

How bad is it? Some hamminess, some cheapness and a hack script.
Should you see it? Oliver Reed and Donald Pleasance fans will enjoy it.

Harry Alan Towers tried to duplicate Roger Corman's success in adapting Edgar Alan Poe stories, with little to show for it. This is one of a dozen versions of "The Fall of the House of Usher" on film and one of the worse - DeCoteau's done one, so it's not the worst. Oliver Reed buries his nephew alive and rapes his fiancee. Donald Pleasance is the loony relative locked in the attic with a power saw for a hand. There's a castration by rat, a hand in a meat grinder, a head on a platter. There's some continuity errors and some things which must be dream sequences (walls develop arms, for example) and some things never get explained: ghosts, for one. The sets are cheap, but don't look too bad and Reed and Pleasance overact in true eye-rolling frenzy. The ending is disappointing, but it always is with this story, which tries to force the idea of a crumbling mansion as a metaphor for a crumbling psyche.

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